EDMOND — A new partnership between the University of Central Oklahoma and a university in South Korea will create study abroad opportunities for students at both schools, UCO officials said.
The university has signed an agreement with Busan National University of Education in Busan, South Korea. The agreement gives students from the College of Education and Professional Studies a chance to study in South Korea.
Students in the college often have a difficult time fitting a semester abroad into their college experience, said Dennis Dunham, executive director of UCO's Office of International Studies. Students follow a tight curriculum, he said, so it can be difficult for them to find courses at universities abroad that match up with requirements at UCO.
The partnership with Busan is designed to make that problem easier to manage, Dunham said. Busan's curriculum matches well with UCO's, particularly in elementary education, he said. That means students will be able to find courses at Busan that fulfill their requirements at UCO.
The program is part of a larger initiative at UCO designed to promote global competency. Giving students the chance to have international experiences is an important piece of their education, Dunham said — it tends to make them more creative and more able to handle diversity and ambiguity.
UCO officials hope to be able to send students to Korea by the fall 2013 semester, Dunham said.
The program will allow students at Busan National University of Education to come to UCO. South Korean students already make up about 11 percent of UCO's international students, and university officials expect the partnership to increase that total.
Dustin Youngmoo Baek, a Korean student at UCO, said the university has been a good fit for him because it gave him a chance to connect with American culture.
Baek, a finance major, came to the United States after he was rejected by the university of his choice in South Korea. He initially considered trying to get into a college in Los Angeles, but he found the city distracting. And he said the Korean population is big enough there that it kept him from experiencing a culture that was different from his own.
“I didn't really feel like I was in America,” he said.
After he got past some confusion about cultural differences — tipping, for example, doesn't exist in South Korea — Baek came to feel welcome at UCO. He thinks Oklahoma has given him a better idea of American culture, and he's found it easier to focus on his studies without the distractions of a city the size of Los Angeles.
“I really like it,” he said. “It's been good.”